Pistons say they're happy not to be chasing 70-victory mark this season
Sunday, March 04, 2007By A. Sherrod Blakely
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Detroit Pistons are not even close to the record-setting pace they were on last season -- and the players couldn't be any happier.
"Right now, the focus is on just winning games, not 70 wins or anything like that," said Detroit forward Antonio McDyess. "Even though we didn't talk about it that much last year, it was hard not to think about something like that, the way we were winning."
For most of the 2005-2006 season, the Pistons were on track to become only the second NBA team ever to win at least 70 games. After a 42-9 record heading into the All-Star break, Detroit finished with a 64-18 record that included losses in three of its last four games.
Making matters worse was their season ending in the Eastern Conference finals against eventual NBA champion Miami.
Even without a record pace this season, Detroit still has the best record in the East and seems poised to win at least 50 games for a franchise-record sixth straight season.
"We're still a good team," said Detroit guard Richard Hamilton. "With some of the injuries we've had, and more guys off the bench playing now, we figured we'd have a few more losses. But having the best regular season record isn't our goal. It'd be nice, but it's not something we're shooting for."
Added McDyess: "This year, it's a whole lot better. I'd rather have it like this than last year."
As Detroit moves closer to securing home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs, don't be surprised if head coach Flip Saunders starts sitting some of his key players, or limiting their minutes. Rasheed Wallace did not play on Friday against Miami because of a sprained left foot, but both Saunders and Wallace said if it were a playoff game, he would have played.
"My adrenaline would be pumping so, it probably wouldn't hurt as bad until after the game," Wallace said. "But it's still regular season. It's just trying to heal up and get ready for them playoffs. That's all that matters."
Detroit's success in the postseason hinges on Wallace being healthy and aggressive on offense, evident by the Pistons being 12-0 in playoff games in which Wallace scores 20 or more points.
"We feel almost every time we play, he's the one mismatch that we can go to," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "When he's healthy, on top of his game, there's nobody in this league that can stop him. He's that good."
This is the second time in the past three seasons that Detroit will play 17 games in March. The franchise record for most games played in March is 18, which occurred during the 2001-02 season. ... Flip Murray was recently away from the Pistons while attending to the birth of his daughter, Corey.
Frankly, so am I.